I’ve been giving myself the silent treatment for the last two weeks. I cut out the radio, turned off the TV, I’m not watching movies and I’m limiting myself from reading any news on the internet. I’ve gone radio silent.
In this day and age when news is on 24-7 and the internet is in the palm of your hand we tend to forget that just because it is there doesn’t mean we have to use it. In fact I would say the less information we have the better we will feel.
I have been so caught up with the media and the ups and downs of the political turmoil that it was creating anxiety. I would read the news on my phone, then read emails from political newsletters. Next I would drive to work listening to NPR and then read the internet news all day at work. All of my free time was being wasted away reading about things I have very little control over and worse, it’s nothing but bad news from every direction. Even the comment sections on most of these article have become a screaming match only equal to the division seen in the political arena. And what does all this arguing do? It surely doesn’t bring me peace. It doesn’t make me happy and it doesn’t give me any solutions. No, it just brings fear of the unknown future.
After weeks of working myself up into a frenzy, I decided to do a little experiment. I wanted to get my thoughts back to myself and avoid the anxiety of the hyper reactionary media. I would turn off all these devices and turn on my attention to myself.
At first it was really difficult, every time I got in the car my hand reached to touch the power button and I had to stop myself and ask the question, what do I get from the radio? Maybe I was avoiding my own thoughts; maybe I was just filling my time with this noise because I was afraid of silence. I decided that I had to let go of the fear and see what happened and I was delightfully surprised.
I had been missing all the little things. All these distraction were amounting to nothing but wasted thoughts. When I was alone in the car I had just created 30 minutes of peaceful time I could think about my life and what I needed to do that day and really prepare my mind for the day ahead. This time was like a mini meditation and I was able to see that once I was disconnected how unimportant all this media attention was for my daily life. They were getting me to worry about things that already happened or were yet to happen and I wasn’t focusing on my present situation. I was losing myself in their problems and ignoring how much peace there was in my life.
I’m not saying ignorance is bliss and we should forget about all the issue of the world. That could be irresponsible to your future well being. What I am saying is that getting tied up in the comings and goings of other people, whether they are politicians fighting on the radio or a reality TV stars poor choices, it is ultimately a distraction. And you are much better turning it off for a few days and finding a more peaceful way to unwind and enjoy the silence.
In this information age, we think that the more we know the better but the focus is really misplaced. The more we focus on ourselves the better we feel. The less we know about the problems of the world the better we feel. It all comes down to priority. Is it more important to watch cable TV or is it important to go for a walk and go to bed early each night? Your personal well being always comes first. Just like the airlines always say, put the oxygen mask on you and breath, they worry about others. This isn’t being selfish it is being considerate of yourself. When you are strong and you are breathing again then you can help others fully and be of service.
What is really your priority? I think once you line them up and see what brings you the most joy you will stop living so distracted and start working toward a goal that brings you health and happiness. So give it a try for a few weeks and I bet you will see the difference.